On the 16th and 17th of October, Portsmouth Guildhall will be hosting some gender-critical speakers. People have a right to express their views - I am doing precisely that in this blog. We quickly call out censorship, the most recent case being The Guardian, who edited out Judith Butler's text in a comprehensive article in which she attributed gender-critical views to be another form of right-wing neo-nazism.
Many gender-critical people say they are from the left - but there is strong evidence that extremists from the right are actually pulling the strings in government.
But I digress.
I have to say I have very mixed views about Filia coming to my home city - God, in many ways, I wish they would naff off. But equally, they have lots of policies which, as a feminist, I can support. Violence against women and girls, FGM, patriarchy, sexism, the list seems, sadly, endless.
Moreover, I have chatted to a couple of members of Filia, and I have to say we got on okay. Some trans activists dont agree with talking to "gender-crits". Forgetting, of course, the words from Moshe Dayan, the former Israeli Defence Minister who famously said, "you dont make peace speaking to your friends; you make peace talking to your enemies".
In her article, published only days ago on this website, Sophie W made a very reasoned debate on this issue.
Should Stonewall talk, for instance?
Well, there is undoubtedly a case to argue that a "no debate" policy has not been an enormous success so far.
But what of Filia?
I have to say I feel they are misguided regarding the "trans debate". The testimony of Raquel Rosario Sanchez when giving her evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee on behalf of Filia made me feel very uneasy, and the fact that Filia openly supports LGB Alliance I (and many others) find immensely disturbing.
Will LGB Alliance get to the US?
Will SPLC brand them a hate group?
Dont bother sending me your answer on a postcard.
Filia states they are not transphobic, and indeed, the members I spoke to in the past gave me the impression that, as individuals, that was the case. True, we did not discuss their anti-trans policies in any detail, but talking is a start.
Ultimately though, I am a trans rights activist, and I have a job to do - help defend my community from aggression, the lies told about by the press and others and get some facts out there.
The fact that so many of us think of (and commit) suicide - the French government say trans folk are seven times more likely than others.
The fact that just 1% of us have a Gender Recognition Certificate and Filia appear to want to keep it that way.
The fact that NHS trans healthcare is near non-existent. Heck, the NHS has never bothered to count us, so they can't even plan for the ever-increasing number of people who come out of the cupboard of shame.
So as Filia states they are not anti-trans, I certainly hope they will not object to Stephs Place launching a small campaign of our own today.
We are asking Portsmouth Guildhall to fly the trans flag from Portsmouth Guildhall during the period 15th to 17th of October.
We will also be asking Portsmouth City Council to support this request, in particular given that they were very proud to receive an award for promoting LGBT+ inclusivity only last year.
Because we trans folks have a few events of our own in and around Portsmouth Guildhall Square 15th to 17th of October, officially supported I would add by Amnesty International and yes, true - some of our events are alcohol-related, especially if it is raining!
On the day we plan to dance, have an open mic, recite poetry, make speeches, practice mindfulness, give out leaflets and generally CELEBRATE DIVERSITY.
Please bring trans flags, placards etc and if you can't we do have some available (first come first served).
Leading up to the event we will be asking Portsmouth Guildhall to fly the trans flag, sadly as I update this article (9th of Oct) they have failed to confirm.
Authored by Steph @PlaceSteph
Authors note: Stephs Place is NOT directly connected to any other trans group. I myself am a member of the Labour Party, Labour LGBT+, Labour TE and the Fawcett Society.